- EARL OF (c. 1525— 1581), Scottish statesman, was the son of Sir George Douglas of Pittendriech, and before 1543 married Elizabeth (d. daughter of the 3rd earl of Morton, to whose titles and estates he succeeded in 1553. Ten years later he became lord high chancellor of Scotland. He headed the armed force which took possession of Holyrood palace in 1566 to effect the assassination of Rizzio, and it was to his house that the leading conspirators adjourned while a messenger was sent to obtain Mary's signature to the "bond of security." The queen, bef ore complying with the request, escaped to Dunbar, and Morton and the others fled to England. Having been pardoned, Morton returned to Scotland early in 1567. He led the army which defeated the queen's forces at Langside in 1568, and was the most valued counsellor of the earl of Murray during his regency. In Oct. 1572, he himself was elected regent. He effected a pacification with Huntley, the Hamiltons, and the Catholic nobles who supported Mary, and took by arms the castle of Edinburgh.
There were, however, undercurrents which combined to pro cure Morton's fall. The Presbyterian clergy were alienated by his leaning to Episcopacy, and all parties in the divided Church by his seizure of its estates. When the powerful earl of Argyll and Atholl, a Stuart and Roman Catholic, united with Alexander Erskine, governor of Stirling, and others, Morton offered to resign.
He surrendered the castle of Edinburgh, the palace of Holyrood, and the royal treasures, and retired to Lochleven. But his ambition could not deny itself another stroke for power. Aided by the young earl of Mar, he got possession of Stirling Castle and the person of the young king. A nominal reconciliation was effected, and a parliament at Stirling introduced a new government. Morton, who secured an indemnity, was president of the council, but Atholl remained a privy councillor in an enlarged council with the representatives of both parties. In 1580 Morton was condemned by an assize for having taken part in the murder of Darnley, and the verdict was justified by his confession that Bothwell had revealed to him the design, although he denied par ticipation in its execution. He was executed on June 2, 1581. MORTON, JOHN (c. 1420-1500), archbishop of Canter bury, cardinal and statesman, was born either at Bere Regis or Milborne St. Andrew. Educated at Balliol college, Oxford, he
graduated in law, and followed that profession in the ecclesiastical courts in London. He is said (Diet. Nat. Biog.) to have been "at once admitted to the privy council"; but probably this is a mis take for the ordinary council, of which Morton might well have been made a member when he was appointed master in chancery and chancellor of the duchy of Cornwall. He received a good deal of ecclesiastical preferment from the Lancastrian party, was pres ent, if he did not fight on the losing side, at the battle of Towton in 1461, and was subsequently attainted by the victorious Yorkists. He lived with the exiled court of Margaret of Anjou at Bar until 1470, and took an active part in the diplomacy which led to the coalition of Warwick and Clarence with the Lancastrians and Louis XI., and indirectly to Edward IV.'s expulsion from the throne. Morton landed with Warwick at Dartmouth in September 147o, but the battle of Tewkesbury shattered the Lancastrian hopes, and Morton made his peace with Edward IV.
In 1473 Morton was made master of the rolls; he was sent on a mission to Hungary in 1474, and was one of the negotiators of the Treaty of Picquigny in 1475. In 1479 he was elected bishop of Ely. He was one of the executors of Edward IV.'s will in 1483, but was arrested after the accession of Richard III. He escaped from Brecknock castle to Flanders, and worked in the interests of the earl of Richmond. When Richmond secured the crown as Henry VII., Morton became his principal adviser. He became archbishop of Canterbury in 1486 and lord chancellor in 5487. In the year 1493 Morton was created a cardinal, and in 1495 was elected chancellor of the university of Oxford. He encouraged learning to the extent of admitting Sir Thomas More into his household, and writing a Latin history of Richard III., which More translated into English. He died at Knole on Oct. 12, 1500, and was buried in Canterbury cathedral.
Besides the authorities cited in the Dict. Nat. Biogr. see the calendar of Patent Rolls, 1461-85, Passim; W. Busch, England under the Tudors (1892) ; J. Gairdner, Henry VII. (5889) and Lollardy and the Refor mation (5908), and Political History of England, vols. iv. and v. (Longmans).